Reviews

Charli XCX “CRASH” Album Review

CRASH

Charli XCX

  • Genre: Pop
  • Release Date: 2022-03-18
  • Explicitness: explicit
  • Country: International
  • Track Count: 12
  • An Asylum Records UK release, ℗ 2022 Warner Music UK Limited, with the exception of Track

Crash is Charli’s best full-length project since Pop 2, a canny embrace of modern and vintage pop styles by one of its most sincere students. It sets a bar for creative mainstream pop: the ruthless, intoxicating dream factory that can chew you up, spit you out, and leave you coming back for more.

Crash has a serious point to make about how ruthlessly major labels can treat the young, female stars that line their shareholders’ pockets. Crash is how it feels to take a sledgehammer to the screen and look around with eyes wide open—despite a couple of slightly weaker moments, oddly being the album’s lead singles.

On Crash, she cashes in the chips she acquired as a Top 40 songwriter, mobilizing a cast of the industry’s most reliable hitmakers and circling back to past collaborators who she was early to spotlight. But her music has too many sharp edges for many of Crash’s songs to fit on to Top 40 playlists frictionlessly, and the album is all the better for it.

One emotion that her music will never evoke is boredom, and even when her sights are trained on infiltrating mainstream pop, she’s still an artist with a knack for surprise. So if ‘Crash’ really does mark the death of Charli XCX as a major label artist – what a way to go.

Album Cover Artwork

Charli Xcx &Quot;Crash&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, February 23, 2024

Standing with the album title, the album cover depicts everything “Crash”, though with a somewhat mild approach. Charli can be seen in her black bikini kneeling on the hood of a supposedly crashed vehicle, bent with an arching back, staring into the car through the cracked windshield. It also appears like the artist herself is also a casualty of the supposed crash, judging from the lines of thick blood streaming down the right side of her face.

With what is going on in that photo, one can tell that Charli was involved in the tragic incident as a person that was hit. But she doesn’t seem to care so much about the injuries she sustained, as she is seen probably checking on the responsiveness of the person behind the wheel.

It could also be that she made it out alive from the not-so-ghastly car crash and came out to gloat in the face of the one in the driver’s seat that had it out for her to end her…and possibly her career, ’cause it sure seems like whoever it is behind the steering will not be making it out of that vehicle in one piece.

Tracks & Features

Crash has 12 songs packaged into it, with two features on two different tracks. The first comes in on track two, “New Shapes”, with Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek collaborations. The pop star also drew from Rina Sawayama’s singing well on “Beg for You”, which happens to be the fifth track on the LP.

Tracks

NO Title Time
1 Crash 2:09
2 New Shapes (feat. Caroline Polachek & Christine and the Queens) 3:20
3 Good Ones 2:16
4 Constant Repeat 3:09
5 Beg For You (feat. Rina Sawayama) 2:48
6 Move Me 2:27
7 Baby 2:39
8 Lightning 3:57
9 Every Rule 3:03
10 Yuck 2:18
11 Used To Know Me 2:25
12 Twice 3:14

While opener’ Crash’ is the freeze-frame moment before plunging into bitterly cold torrents of water, there’s beauty in the breakdown, as Charli declares atop massive thumping hard-funk drums, screeching Prince-like guitar lines: “I’m like a flower blooming”.

She rejoices on ‘Used to Know Me’, though it initially screens like a euphoric break-up song, there are also clear hints of creative liberation and the relief that accompanies it. On the other hand, “Constant Repeat” is a carefree trancy song that catches flight with pitch-shifting vocals that swoop through different layers of the atmosphere, and it is produced by Lotus IV, a former collaborator.

On standout ‘Lightning’, production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ larger-than-life production on Janet Jackson’s ‘Control’ comes to mind, along with boogie pioneer Kashif. Though ‘Yuck’ heads down a more restrained road, playfulness charges her dry account of rapidly catching the ick: “Sending me flowers,” she grimaces, “just trying to get lucky.”

Crash eases off the throttle slightly with the interpolation on ‘Used to Know Me’ that is infectious and maybe slightly too straightforward. At the same time, smouldering ballads’ Move Me’ and ‘Every Rule’ could do with more of the skewed hints of unfamiliarity found in spades elsewhere.

These are minor gripes, though, and by the time those synthesized strings whirr into life on the jagged pop-funk track, ‘Baby’, they’re easy enough to overlook. She closes the album with ‘Twice’, which contains robotic pings of xylophone, which turn over and over as Charli stares death square in the eyes. “Don’t think twice, don’t think about,” she sings.

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